As one might expect, I sample a lot of beers over the course of a year; easily hundreds. It’s rare that I drink the same beer twice in twelve months as I’m too addicted to variety and, as confessed in last week’s Beer of the Week post, I’m a completionist, so I want to try everything. Still, there are brews so good I keep reaching for them. The following are some new San Diego creations I couldn’t get enough of in 2013.
4150 Mission Boulevard #208, San Diego
Amplified Ale Works Pig Nose Pale Ale: So hoppily bright and refreshingly drinkable it should be the prototype for anybody aiming to produce a West Coast-style pale.
170 Orange Avenue, Coronado
Coronado 17th Anniversary Specialty Ale: you can taste 17 years of experience in what is quite possibly the best of the many India pale ales this company has produced.
Culture Black IPA: One of the easiest drinking black IPAs here or anywhere, it comes across with tons of piney aroma but a mild roastiness that doesn’t compete with the hops.
155 Mata Way #104, San Marcos
The Lost Abbey Merry Taj IPA: Full-bodied and so spicy it tastes like a rye-infused beer, this is a nice departure from the brewery's Belgian-style beers and typical holiday brews.
805 16th Street, San Diego
Monkey Paw Bonobos: Even before it struck gold at the Great American Beer Festival, it was obvious this assertive, effervescent beer was primed for the spotlight.
1325 Grand Avenue #100, San Marcos
Rip Current Caught In A Rip Triple IPA: They serve triple IPAs on the road to Hell…so many good intentions, so many bad IIIPAs. But this one will take imbibers to heaven.
Rip Current Lupulin Lust: One of brewer Paul Sangster’s most award-winning homebrew recipes made a brilliant, Alpha acid-rich transition to the commercial realm.
8262 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego
Societe The Bachelor Citra Single-Hop IPA: As intended, this IPA shows off the citrus-forward glory of the hop it celebrates. I give this educational beer a solid A-plus.
9990 Alesmith Court, San Diego
AleSmith Cream Ale: It’s hard to palatably pack tons of hops into a beer. It’s as hard, if not harder, to create a clean session beer, but the AleSmith crew softly hit that nail square on the head.
9715 Carroll Centre Road #107, San Diego
Intergalactic Astro Scottish Ale: Scottish ales enjoyed a minor local renaissance and this one, produced by an admirer of the style, clearly communicated his passion on the palate.
Port Brewing Board Meeting Imperial Brown Ale: Freshly roasted beans from San Marcos’ Ryan Bros. Coffee give this robust brew a lovely character. It’s become a go-to for yours truly.
1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido
Stone Reason Be Damned Belgian Style Abbey Ale aged in Red Wine Barrels: A long, unwieldy name is expected from Stone, but something with Belgian character and oaky tannins from vino barrels isn’t. As good as it was surprising.
2013 Stone ESPRESSO Imperial Russian Stout: Maybe there’s something to this Ryan Bros. java, because it truly elevated this annual offering into the stuff of legend.
6190 Fairmount Avenue, Suite G, San Diego
Benchmark Oatmeal Stout: I’m a sucker for a heavily roasty, yet dry, English-style oatmeal stout and this just may be the best one that’s ever crossed my taste buds.
980 Park Center Drive, Suite A, Vista
Belching Beaver Beaver’s Milk: The only milk stout in the county when it came out, it was easy to call it the best, but even with no competitors, it’s a creamy, chocolaty standout.
11545 Sorrento Valley Road #305, San Diego
New English Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout: There’s no beer I ordered more this year than this hearty, roasty, semisweet bit of dessert-like sustenance in a snifter.
1485 Hollow Glen Road, Julian, CA
Nickel Stonewall Stout: Abundant sweetness is a big detractor for me with non-imperial stouts. This was the most beefy-yet-balanced, savory, local stout I quaffed in 2013.
Saint Archer American Stout: On top of an über-balanced roasted malt bill, this beer delivers plenty of resiny hop notes and serves as a sign that this business is on the right track.